In 2022, US cybersecurity has been severely compromised. The US government and private organizations have spent the last decade focused on building up US cyberdefenses. While many such efforts were successful in protecting US networks from direct attacks, several major factors led to the current state of US cybersecurity:
The US’ Lack of Focus on International Espionage Efforts
During the early 21st century, US intelligence agencies’ main focus was on countering terrorism. US intelligence agencies still collected communications and information on foreign entities, but the US saw no active US-sponsored espionage efforts beyond US borders. This allowed other countries to develop their espionage capabilities without fear of US countermeasures. Furthermore, some US officials were against developing such offensive capabilities in favor of focusing on defensive measures. In 2022, several nation states have been able to launch devastating attacks against the US with little difficulty or evidence that points back to enemy origin.
Failure to Anticipate Nation States Shifting Their Attention Toward Cyberwarfare
US cybersecurity efforts failed to take US adversaries’ potential cyberwarfare capabilities into consideration. In light of US cybersecurity measures, US adversaries were forced to reevaluate their strategies. The US military and government have historically been highly reliant on advanced technologies such as satellites and the Internet, which US adversaries have learned to exploit for a variety of purposes. When a US adversary’s physical capabilities are limited or nonexistent in a specific area, they can rely heavily on cyberattacks against critical infrastructure, financial institutions, and other economic targets within that country/region. While US agencies certainly anticipated this growing trend, these attacks were often low-level enough not to garner much attention from US legislators or funding from US Cyber Command or Central Intelligence Agency. Furthermore, US counterintelligence agencies never anticipated US adversaries like Russia and China to shift their focus toward deploying cyber units of their own instead of relying on outside organizations (e.g., criminals, hacktivists).
US Dependence on Foreign Manufacturers and Service Providers
US cybersecurity efforts failed to account for US dependence on foreign manufacturers and service providers. US adversaries have been relatively successful in establishing footholds in a variety of critical US industries, including telecommunications, financial service, defense, and energy sectors. US companies often rely on technologies from these private sector entities to conduct everyday business operations. Furthermore, US agencies regularly purchase physical products or services from their counterparts around the world without actually verifying the security of these products or services.
Overall, US cybersecurity efforts have had several setbacks over the past 15 years. US counterintelligence agencies learned from many of these failures and will gear their US cybersecurity efforts accordingly in the next 5-10 years.